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It’s likely going to take a lot of years and a lot of lawyers to sort out the consequences of Thursday morning’s revocation of the Green Acres Mall payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement.
But one thing should be clear immediately to industrial development agencies across Long Island: Taxpayers are watching closely, and they are very sensitive to deals that would bump up their property taxes to give business owners breaks on theirs.
In 2014, the Hempstead IDA approved a huge break for the mall in return for a $163 million renovation and expansion. But last year, when Valley Stream taxpayers saw their school property tax bills rise by as much as 12 percent, the deal came under public attack. The IDA says it is revoking the tax break because the mall owner, Macerich, won’t create and maintain the 3,000 jobs it promised and “grossly misstated” those numbers.
Macerich says the IDA has no legal authority to withdraw the breaks. It says the residential tax hikes were due to mistakes by the districts, not its deal, and the company will sue the IDA.
The changing political dynamics are making IDAs on Long Island a lot more cautious. Forces looking to develop the long-delayed “Superblock” residential and retail project in Long Beach are getting ready to take their third whack at tax relief, having failed to secure deals for a $129 million tax break in 2015 and a $109 million reduction last July.
The game may be over for officials who want to use IDAs to distribute political pork or reward a favored campaign donor. The elected officials who enable these IDA deals could pay at election time, and Hempstead Town officials don’t want to be the poster children for that new reality in 2017.
Summer White House?
Lee Zeldin reintroduced his Plum Island legislation Thursday to prevent the federal government from selling the island two miles off the tip of Orient Point to the highest bidder.
The bill didn’t go anywhere in Congress last year, and it’s not clear there’s any reason to expect it to go anywhere now, despite Zeldin’s touting of his connections to the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives.
But one thing has changed: The man who would have to sign the bill now is the same person who has talked in the past about buying the island and building a golf course and “modest” clubhouse. President Donald Trump.
Summer White House, anyone?
Did you see the report in Newsday?
“The Town of Islip approved yesterday a $3,000,000 expansion of facilities at MacArthur Airport . . . The town last month formed a committee to plan a transportation center at the airport which would cover rail, bus and air traffic, trucking, postal service, freight and express. The New York State Office of Transportation, meanwhile, has proposed a major central rail center at Ronkonkoma, adjoining the airport.”
Sounds like everything is coming together for the long-desired new terminal on the north side of the airport, right?
Except that the article was in the April 22, 1964, edition of Newsday. That classic edition was delivered to home subscribers on Sunday, and the big news of the day then was the opening of the World’s Fair.
But the story that continues to reverberate is the one that still hasn’t come to fruition, 53 years later.
Cuomo the builder (and driver)
Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1932 Packard was built seven years before the Kosciuszko Bridge opened in 1939, by which time the former New York governor had moved on to the presidency. On Thursday, that Packard was driven across the new Kosciuszko Bridge by Andrew M. Cuomo, another New York governor with designs on the presidency.